MINNESOTA FARM TRUCK INJURY LAWYER-5 STAR RATED, EXPERIENCED WITH FARM INJURY CASES
The Minnesota Farm Truck Injury Lawyers at the Schmidt Salita Law Team have over 100 years experience in handling various personal injury and wrongful death claims in Minnesota. That experience includes many cases of injury to farmers and farm workers
Farm work requires skill and a tireless work ethic. While the work may be tough it is can be very rewarding while allowing one to enjoy the outdoors and wonderful Minnesota landscape. Farm work is often a rewarding way to earn a living, it can be dangerous and even deadly if landowners, operators, and farm equipment manufacturers do not take safety seriously. In fact, according to the US Department of Labor, farming industry fatalities rose 11% in 2008, with 651 deaths recorded across the country. Aside from farm industry fatalities, 243 agricultural workers suffer injuries every day in the United States, 5% of which lead to permanent disabilities.
INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
Injuries: In farming range from cuts and scrapes to total disabilities and fatalities. Most traumatic injuries occur during interactions with machinery, especially tractors. Injuries also result from poor building design, electric power, livestock handling, and weather conditions. The activities that victims were most often performing when injured are machinery maintenance, fieldwork, and caring for animals.
Tractor: Accidents have been identified as the leading cause of deaths and disabling injuries on farms. Tractors are the most frequent cause (one-third to one-half) of injury for fatal farm accidents but account for a much smaller percentage (5 to 10 percent) of nonfatal farm accidents with overturn accounting for about one-half and runover accounting for about one-fourth of such accidents. Most deaths caused by overturns and runovers could be prevented if tractors were equipped with rollover protective structures (ROPS) and seat belts and if passengers were not allowed on tractors. However, only about one-third of the tractors on U.S. farms are equipped with such protective structures. According to a study in Pennsylvania, less than 19 percent of the tractors had ROPS. Other types of fatal injuries involving tractors are caused by power takeoff (PTO) entanglements, contact with overhead electrical wires, and road collisions.
Not all injuries involving tractors are fatal. These generally resulted in bruises or fractures (struck by or against) and fractures or sprains to the foot (fall). Most of the struck by or against accidents occurred during fieldwork, but most of the accidents by falls occurred while the tractor was parked or stationary.
Machinery Other Than Tractors: Most accidents occurred when the victim was struck by or struck against the machine while performing maintenance on combines with grain heads when the machine was not running. Other types of injuries that happen when working with machinery include entanglements in belts, chains, gears, power takeoffs at the tractor and along the PTO drive, and crop gathering and moving mechanisms. Most machinery is manufactured with protective devices, and warning signs are placed on the machines at spots where workers can become easily entangled.
Nonmachinery: The most frequent type of nonmachinery-related injuries is ‘struck by or against an object. These injuries generally result in a bruise or fracture to the head and most often happen while performing chores involving animals or treating animals.
Illnesses: Farmers and farmworkers have higher rates than other workers of respiratory disease, certain cancers, acute and chronic chemical toxicity, dermatitis, musculoskeletal syndromes, noise-induced hearing loss, and stress-related mental disorders.
Respiratory Disease: There are at least six disorders associated with exposure to airborne dusts in farming: hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS), chronic bronchitis (CB), acute pulmonary symptoms (APS), asthma, and mucous membrane irritation (MMI). HP is caused by exposure to antigens found in silage and in spoiled hay and grain. HP is commonly seen on dairy farms but has also been found on farms where grain is stored in drying bins and is found in poultry houses and mushroom houses. ODTS occurs after exposure to large amounts of organic dust. Workers affected by ODTS include those uncapping silos on dairy farms, cleaning grain bins, moving moldy grain, and working in swine confinement facilities. The precise cause of CB, other than airborne dust, has not been isolated; nor have the individuals who are at high risk been identified. However, workers in swine confinement areas, poultry farmers, and handlers of grain appear to have risks of suffering from CB. The occurrence of APS has been studied in grain farmers and swine confinement workers, and both groups have exhibited symptoms. Asthma can be triggered by many farm antigens. Also, many farm antigens cause MMI.
In addition to airborne dusts, some gases can cause acute toxicity. The primary locations of these gases are silos, manure pits, and modern semi-enclosed animal production buildings. Soon after corn is ensiled, nitrogen oxide levels begin increasing and continue to increase for about 7 days. Anyone entering silos during the first 2 weeks after filling may experience difficult or labored breathing or, in the extreme case, death. Hydrogen sulphide, methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide are some of the toxic gases emanating from manure pits, especially when the manure is being agitated. Even when the levels of these gases are not high enough to be fatal, unconsciousness may cause drowning or near drowning in manure liquids. High levels of ammonia have been documented in poultry and swine confinement facilities, especially in winter. Concentrations of ammonia in these facilities would ordinarily be only a strong irritant to the eyes, nose, and throat but when combined with organic dusts could cause pulmonary damage.
Cancers: Leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the lip, skin, stomach, prostate, and brain have excessive occurrences in farmers. The marked frequency of these cancers in farmers have not been conclusively identified. However, “cancers of the skin and lip are linked to increased exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation,” an exposures to nitrates, pesticides, viruses, antigenic stimulants, and various fuels, oils, and solvents are suspected causes of many cancers. Some evidence indicates women on farms have higher incident rates of multiple myeloma than do farm men.
Pesticide Toxicity: Exposure to pesticides can produce acute and chronic toxic reactions. Acute reactions develop immediately after moderate or high exposures to pesticides. Symptoms of acute reactions include dizziness, vomiting, headache, fatigue, drowsiness, and skin rashes. Although this area of toxicity is not yet fully scientifically documented, some of the suspected chronic effects are central nervous system damage, lung diseases, soft tissue sarcoma, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and lung cancer. More research on the chronic effects of pesticide exposures is required.
Dermatitis: Occupational dermatitis is very common among workers on U.S. farms. Among the agents causing dermatitis and related skin conditions are ammonia fertilizers, animal feed additives, pesticides, plants, sunlight, cattle, swine, sheep, moist and hot environments, and chiggers, bees, and wasps.
Musculoskeletal Syndromes: Degenerative musculoskeletal syndromes are widespread among farmers and farmworkers . Low back pain, hip arthrosis, and degenerative arthritis of the knee and upper extremities are the syndromes most often reported. Chronic vibration from tractors and farm machinery and repetitive trauma associated with farm work can lead to musculoskeletal syndromes.
Noise-induced Hearing Loss. Another occupational hazard for farmers and farmworkers is hearing loss caused by exposure to farm machinery, especially tractors. Hearing losses affect about a quarter of younger farmers and one-half of older farmers. “Significant numbers of those affected have been found to develop a communication handicap by age 30.
Stress-Related Mental Disorders. Farmers, farm workers, and farm family members have high rates of stress-related mental disorders, especially depression. “Some of these disorders appear to be related to isolation, and others result from agricultural stressors such as economic hardship and weather conditions. Factors beyond a farmer’s control, such as reduced revenue, increased workload, weather, an management problems, were found to cause significant mental stress.
Farming Equipment Accidents
Farming equipment accidents are a leading cause of injury and death among farm laborers. Most equipment-related accidents on the farm are due to farm tractor rollovers. Others are due to:
- Being caught in running machinery
- Non-highway transportation accidents (not including rollovers)
- Highway collisions between farm equipment and other vehicles
- Being struck by falling machinery parts
- Equipment contacting overhead or underground power lines.
Did You Know:
- 37% of the 7,571 farmers who died on the job between 1992 and 2005 were involved in tractor accidents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- A staggering 93,000 farm suffered non-fatal, on-the-job injuries between 1997 and 2005, 12% of which occurred as a result of working with farm equipment.
Farm Equipment Manufacturer Irresponsibility:
Many such deaths and injuries could be prevented if manufacturers designed safe farm equipment and included safety warnings on equipment.
Instead, tractors, hay balers, grain augers, skid steer loaders, corn pickers, combines and brush hog mowers continue to cause thousands of deaths and injuries annually.
As a result, farmers are 800% more likely to die on the job than in other industries.
Here are some of the most common types of serious farm accidents and farm accident injuries:
- Tractor overturn deaths. Each year approximately 100 U.S. farmers are killed when their tractor rolls over during use – and many more suffer serious injuries during tractor overturn incidents.
- Farm structure falls. Many farmers and farm workers suffer serious injuries sustained in falls from farm equipment, grain bins, ladders, haymows, or other farm buildings. Others are struck by falling objects.
- Farm machine entanglements. Farm workers can be seriously maimed, disfigured, or killed when they become caught in farming machinery such as augers or PTO shafts.
- Suffocation accidents. Farm workers may become trapped in a grain bin or silo where they are suffocated. Others may become trapped in enclosed spaces that do not have proper oxygen levels or that are contaminated with silo gas or manure gas.
While some of these Minnesota farming injuries could not have been prevented and are simply tragic accidents, many Minnesota farm industry injuries could have been prevented if not for the negligence of another person or entity. Here are just a few ways examples of farm accidents that may have been caused by negligence:
- A farm equipment company does not put adequate warnings on their products.
- A piece of farming equipment is defective or dangerous.
- A farm employer, owner, or operator removes safety devices, such as shields, from a piece of equipment.
- A farm employer does not properly train workers to use the farm equipment.
- A farm employer does not discontinue the use of a broken or faulty piece of equipment.
Each year in Minnesota, one in five farms is the scene of a serious agricultural industry accident. These accidents can lead to serious bodily injury, including loss of limbs and amputation, head injuries and brain damage, back injuries and spinal injuries, disfigurement, and death. These injuries can keep you from returning to work, permanently lower your quality of life, and require ongoing medical treatment. If someone else was responsible for your farm industry accident, they could be responsible for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
The Schmidt Salita Team Offers Contingent Fee Arrangements.
The firm offers contingent fee agreements (You don’t pay lawyers fees until you collect and then only as a percentage of the settlement). It also offers home and hospital visits to clients whose injuries present difficulty in coming to the office.
“PERSONAL INJURY WITH PERSONAL ATTENTION TO EACH CASE”.
The Schmidt Salita Law Team has locations throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Minnetonka, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Osseo, Anoka, Coon Rapids, Brooklyn Center, Fridley, Blaine, Shoreview, Woodbury, Falcon Heights, Columbia Park, Stillwater, Hastings, Inver Grove, Cottage Grove, South St. Paul, Apple Valley, Eagan, Burnsville, Savage, Shakopee, Richfield, Bloomington, Chaska, Chanhassen, Edina, Eden Prairie, and Hopkins.